Just When It Looked Like They Were Out of Threats: Reuters: "North Korea said it had 'ratified' a merciless attack against the United States, potentially involving a 'diversified nuclear strike.' "
The Statement: "We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," a spokesman for the North Korean military said in a statement carried by state media.
Not Something to Laugh Off: NBC News: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that North Korea's latest provocations are 'a real and clear danger and threat' to U.S. interests and Washington is taking them seriously. 'We are doing everything we can ... to defuse that situation on the peninsula,' Hagel said after a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair."
What We're Going to Do About It: Washington Post: "The United States will deploy a sophisticated anti-missile defense system to Guam in response to North Korean threats to U.S. military bases in the Pacific, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) is a relatively new land-based system designed to destroy incoming short, medium and intermediate-range missiles by crashing into them in the air. Only two batteries of the system, produced by Lockheed Martin, are currently deployed, both at Fort Bliss, Tex. ... The announcement followed North Korea’s banning of South Korean workers from entering a joint industrial complex near the demilitarized zone. Obama administration officials had said earlier that the move would signal a more serious crisis beyond the bellicose rhetoric issued by North Korea over the past several weeks."
More on the Industrial Complex: New York Times: "North Korea blocked South Koreans on Wednesday from crossing the heavily armed border to a jointly operated industrial park, raising doubt about the future of the last remaining major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. ... The move came four days after North Korea threatened to shut down the industrial park ... out of anger over United Nations sanctions and joint military drills that the United States and South Korea are conducting on the Korean Peninsula. ... Officials feared that if the one-way blockade continued, it would asphyxiate the eight-year-old industrial park, which produced $470 million worth of goods last year, helping provide a badly needed source of cash for the North, which faces heavy global sanctions."
Foreign Policy: The North Korea Deal That Wasn't
Carnival Can't Buy a Break: CNN: "One person is missing after high winds in Mobile, Alabama, caused the disabled cruise ship Carnival Triumph to break loose from its dock. ... The Triumph has been at the BAE Shipyard in the Port of Mobile since an engine fire in February left the cruise ship crippled and adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people aboard. For four days, tugboats guided the disabled ship into the port as passengers complained about miserable conditions onboard."
A Changing Global Energy Landscape: Wall Street Journal: "China could overtake the U.S. as the world's largest oil importer by 2014, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said, the latest evidence of how the American shale boom is reshaping global energy markets. ... OPEC, whose members supply more than one in three barrels of crude consumed worldwide, said rising Chinese imports were backed by increased throughput at the country's refineries. The group quoted analysis saying China's oil imports could top 6 million barrels a day this year, while the Washington-based Energy Information Administration, or EIA, foresees net U.S. oil imports could fall below that level in 2014."
Shining Light on Dark Matter: Associated Press: "A $2 billion cosmic ray detector on the International Space Station has found the footprint of something that could be dark matter, the mysterious substance that is believed to hold the cosmos together but has never been directly observed, scientists say. But the first results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, known by its acronym AMS, are almost as enigmatic as dark matter itself. They show evidence of new physics phenomena that could be the strange and unknown dark matter or could be energy that originates from pulsars, scientists at the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva announced Wednesday. The results from the detector are significant, because dark matter is thought to make up about a quarter of all the matter in the universe."
The Solidarity Sequester: USA Today: "President Obama plans to take a 5% salary cut in support of federal workers who are going to be furloughed, an official said Wednesday. The decision comes a day after a similar move by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Obama's move is retroactive to March 1, the first day the ongoing $85 billion in budget cuts known as the sequester began to take effect. The president's base salary is $400,000 a year—5% adds up to $20,000. Because Congress sets the president's salary by law, his actual paycheck cannot be reduced; Obama will have to honor the voluntary pay cut by returning money to the Treasury."
Gun Talk: Associated Press: "Ratcheting up pressure for Congress to limit access to guns, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that steps taken recently by Colorado to tighten its gun laws show 'there doesn't have to be a conflict' between keeping citizens safe and protecting Second Amendment rights to gun ownership. ... Colorado recently expanded background checks for gun purchases and placed restrictions on ammunition magazines. Prospects for passage of similar measures by Congress appear bleak, largely because of concerns by conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats who come down more on the side of gun rights."
Ex-Goldman Trader Pleads Guilty: Reuters: "Ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc trader Matthew M. Taylor pleaded guilty on Wednesday to defrauding the Wall Street bank with an unauthorized $8.3 billion futures trade in 2007, saying he exceeded internal risk limits and lied to supervisors to cover up his activities. Taylor, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in federal court in lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning, after voluntarily turning himself into federal authorities earlier in the day."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
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